Prior to 1875 the civic address for 1363 Hollis was 57 and later changed to 49 post 1875. The first notable resident was George P. Black who was the General Travel Agent for the Intercolonial Railway’s Halifax office, “Railway World March 15, 1878, Volume 5.” George Black was part of the Black family a who were prominent merchants and Methodist Ministers. Starting with “William Black (November 10, 1760 – September 8, 1834) was a Yorkshireman and founder of the Methodist congregation in colonial Nova Scotia. Martin Gay Black (19 November 1786 – 26 October 1861) was the son of William Black, who was the founder of the Methodist congregation in Nova Scotia. Martin Black was raised in a home dedicated to the evangelical religious practices of Methodism. He became a successful businessman and moved into banking. He was a founding partner of the Halifax Banking Company and eventually its president. He was a powerful and distinguished member of the community and also furthered the influence of the Methodist movement in Nova Scotia.”1 “The Halifax Banking Company was the first bank in Nova Scotia.

Established in 1825, it was unable to obtain a charter from the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly and operated as a private company. It became incorporated as a chartered bank in 1872 and enjoyed a period of rapid growth and prosperity. The bank was merged with the Canadian Bank of Commerce in 1903.The banking company was formed by eight prominent citizens of Halifax. They included Martin Gay Black, Henry Hezekiah Cogswell and Enos Collins (one of the wealthiest men of his time). Martin Black served as president of the bank for a time.”2

The business relationship between the Black and Collins family through the founding of the Halifax Banking Company. According to the deed of 1879 (NS Archives), George Black was foreclosed on by The Halifax Banking Company for the benefit of the estate of Enos Collins by Brenton Halliburton Collins, Esq. (Enos Collins son & executor) in 1879 for 1363 Hollis through a Sheriff’s sale. As noted in the 1877 McApline’s Directory about rent and increase in foreclosures in Halifax:

“Investments for capital. —The high expectations once entertained by many relative to the advantages that would accrue to this community from an abolition of the usury laws, have turned out to be fallacious. Loans had been, for a long period, negotiated at five and six per cent, and the sudden raising to seven compelled the raising of rents to meet the difference—rents were higher in Halifax than in any other city on this continent, and consequent derangement was the result which culminated in too many instances in foreclosure of mortgage and Sheriff’s sale. Seven per cent is the interest yet demanded on mortgage security for pew loans, but reasonable investors did not raise the amount on old mortgages; many remain yet at six, and some even at five per cent. The Bank rate of interest allowed on deposit is four per cent. Discounts are at eight or seven per cent, or even less according to the kind of paper presented. Money is plentiful at the Banks.” 3

According to the 1879 deed Collins was very prominent lawyer and had his law office in London, England. Collins owned the property from 1879 to 1920. It is important to note from the Collins time of ownership to present day 1363 Hollis has been a rental property. In 1891, according to the McApline’s Directory lists Forsyth George E., owner of G.E.Forsyth.& Co Grocery, business at 232 (1878) Hollis, who rented the house from Collins.

In 1911 the McApline’s Directory lists the house being rented by Dr. Francis A.R. Gow, physician and Miss Margaret Gow. Dr. Gow was a prominent doctor in Nova Scotia and tragically lost his son in World War Two. Dr. Gow’s son, was Francis Robert William Gow, Royal Canadian Navy Cmdr. Who died at sea in 1942.4 Following the directory forward to 1921, the building was occupied by Thomas Davis, proprietor of Clifton House, and owned by Harry J. Kitz, a Jeweler and Real Estate Agent. Clifton House was a boarding house/hotel which operated until 1921. Also, note next door at 43 Hollis The Allied Merchant Seaman’s Club operated as a hostel for sailor’s during World War two. Illustrating the change along this part of Hollis from Upper Class family homes to investment properties.

Architectural Comments: 

The architecture of 1363 Hollis was built in the Italianate style and served as one of the finest examples of this style in the city. The structure is a wooden frame built on a granite foundation and had a roof top patio as seen in the photograph from St Mary’s Basilica Steeple, ca.1888. The house is three stories with row of three windows on the second and third floors front façade. The second-floor front façade had ornate decorative lintels. The front entrance was made of granite steps with wooden columns and triangular pediment above.

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